Issue - January 2010

January 2010


Inside this edition: Petra Vissers give interviews Erika Bruzonic; Arnold Brouwer tells us about improvements at the Centro Maria Cristina Nuevo Rostro; A review of Bolivian Cinema; and ending this January edition, Walter Sánchez with Breaking Taboos. read more...

January 2010

Erika Bruzonic

One of Bolivia´s most striking writers, published last year not just one, but two books, including one in English. She stands out as a successful female writer with a surprisingly attitude towards the way she experiences her literature.

Petra Vissers
Projects Abroad Volunteer
Ultrecht - Netherlands

In 2009 two books of Erica Bruzonic came out; ¨Las malas fichas son para jugar¨ and ¨His navel is as deep as a God’s eye¨, her first book entirely written in English. ¨I did not “want” to write a book in English. I simply wrote it. I wasn’t totally conscious of the fact that I’d already written over 20 stories in English until one day I counted them and thought I might make a volume of them. It was quite pedestrian really. There are sentences or thoughts that no matter how well translated, will never be fairly perceived if not read in the language in which they were originally conceived. I therefore use the language in which I’ve originally conceived the sentence, title, story, article and etcetera¨, she explains.

Because of her way of approaching her writing, English is not the only language in ¨His navel is as deep as a God’s eye¨. Although it is the main language, she also wrote down sentences in Spanish and even French. The book consists of short stories about what you could call everyday life in a bizarre way. The stories are funny, smart or disturbing and most of the times they contain an erotic component. One could say Erika Bruzonic is a woman who has managed to become a successful female writer writing erotic literature. Something quite outstanding in the world of Latin American literature. But, the writer herself does not agree with that classification; “I’m not smart enough to match the talents of writers of erotic literature, I wish that I were! A short story with two or three sentences resembling something erotic does not make an erotic writer¨, she comments.

The same goes for the stories in “Las malas fichas son para jugar”, although they are significantly longer. They are about confused men and women, dying or beginning relationships and nights in the city; they are about urban life in all its confusing ways. They are about modern times, about traditional roles that are changing and about everything else Erika chooses to write about. Because this woman really chooses to write, it is no matter of inspiration or calling, writing for her is nothing more then a job. She does it because she has the talent to do so; ¨I write because I can. So I do. Writing is work. You can write mostly about anything if you work hard enough at it¨. Although she is one of Bolivia´s most talented and appreciated writers, Erika Bruzonic claims to have no love for literature, her only love, she says, is music. ¨Literature has never been a love of mine. At the most, I have a bit of affection for literature, not love¨, is the slightly surprising statement from a woman that has been publishing literature for many decades. But, she loves jazz music more then anything and has an enormous music library. One only has to read her blog to get to know more about this love of hers.

Her slightly surprising attitude is not the only thing that makes her stand out in the world of Bolivian and world literature. She is also a successful female writer. Although Latin America has a rich cultural life when it comes to literature, most of the famous and appreciated writers remain men. The world of literature remains a macho world, with the exception of some female writers such as Isabel Allende. To the question of what it means to be a woman in this world and if she has had to overcome more obstacles then male writers, this is her answer; ¨It means that you have to work thrice as hard to be read. Short of walking in the nude with your book balanced on your head, you need to do a lot more lobbying, be more present, and participate in more activities if you want people to read you. Especially men. Men don’t read books by women as a rule. If a male writer shows up at a Book Fair for one presentation it is usually enough for people to buy his book and maybe even read it. Female authors need to be present throughout the entire Fair just to be noticed¨.

Why this world remains so macho driven, despite the emergence of several Latin American female writers on the continent and even in Europe, is something Erika has been thinking about; ¨I believe it’s all imbued in us culturally and has been for the longest time. When little boys are encouraged to read books by writers who are male. In my time I’ve never seen a boy with a book by Louise May Alcott, for instance. However, I’d see boys clutching The Treasure of El Río de La Plata by Emilio Salgari. I don’t believe things have varied much since¨. She believes readers need to be educated in reading all paths of literature to change this. According to her, people should learn to be readers, not simply trend followers and writers should be real writers.

For a woman who claims to just have a slight affection for literature she seems to want to put a lot of thought and struggle in it. For Bolivian literature we can only hope she will use her talent for more publications and that she will be able to combine it with her first and true love. As for her thoughts on the matter? She only says, ¨I’ve never given much thought to my literary future. I will continue to write for as long as I’ve got the will to do it I suppose¨. Let us hope that her will will not disappear any time soon.

Environmental program on children’s homes

In April this year “Huertos Educativos Cochabamba” started working at Maria Cristina “Nuevo Rostro”, a center for mentally disabled children. A real challenge for the team because it is completely different to working with “normal” children in schools. The goal still is to teach the children how to manage a small city garden, based on urban agricultural principles but at the same time the program is aiming at training the staff members for future garden management and a healthy organic production for the kitchen, while reducing the amount of organic waste by composting.

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